How I Prepare a Speech for Toastmasters

by Lara Gillease

I gave a speech on June 14 in which the purpose was to entertain the audience. It was supposed to be a well organized, easy to follow talk. I decided to speak about how I got to Asheville. I love hearing others’ stories about this and am always surprised when I meet someone who was born and raised here since so many of us are transplants.

In preparing the speech, I had many false starts as I had too many details and difficulty in organizing it. What really helps me in preparing any speech once I know the topic is to figure out how to capture the audience’s attention. In this speech I asked the audience questions about whether they were born and raised here and three options of what brought them here. Once I figure out the introduction, I write it down word for word. I say it aloud until I have it memorized.

Next in the preparation process, I just start talking aloud after the introduction and listen to what comes out of my mouth. Usually this is when I have the most starts and stops. I struggle with how to say what I want most effectively. As I keep talking I start to weed out unnecessary ways of saying things.

Then I start timing myself while speaking aloud to figure out whether I have too much information. I have always had too much information in my speeches, which are usually five to seven minutes long. It sounds like a long time but once you get talking the time seems to fly. I then distill down what I am saying even more. That’s when the speech starts to take shape.

Next I begin fretting over the conclusion. I usually tie it back into how I initially captured the audience’s attention as well as provide a summary. I feel my conclusions overall could be stronger. I am working on them.

I received great encouragement and some valuable feedback from my toastmasters’ colleagues after my speech. I also enjoyed sharing a snapshot of my life with others and feeling the sense of accomplishment of having learned from the process and a job well done.